The Columbus Blue Jackets have locked up two huge parts of their future, signing David Jiricek and Denton Mateychuk to three-year entry-level contracts. The young defensemen were picked sixth and 12th respectively in this month’s draft.
The earlier pick, Jiricek, is an extremely accomplished defenseman for his age, having played for Plzen of the Czech Extraliga for parts of the past three seasons. Jiricek had 11 points in 29 games and one point in Czechia’s one-game run during the short-lived 2022 IIHF World Junior Championships. Jiricek is known for his size, all-around game, and booming point shot. He’s coming off a major knee injury, but it’s not expected to have any long-term impact on his career. With this signing, the Blue Jackets have the option to bring Jiricek to training camp and see if the polished defenseman can make their team.
Mateychuk, on the other hand, may take a bit more time than Jiricek. The Canadian defenseman plays a dynamic game that’s a bit less pro-ready. Mateychuk had 64 points in 65 games for the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors and had 10 points in their 10-game playoff run. Mateychuk is a tad undersized, standing at five-foot-eleven, but even with that in mind, he plays the sort of game that is becoming increasingly valued in today’s NHL. He’ll likely return to Moose Jaw for another season before possibly contending for an NHL job in 2022-23 at the earliest.